High-visibility safety garments - Part 1: Garments for high-risk applications
High-visibility clothing is mandatory safety equipment for road, rail, and other industries with a similarly high-risk level. Safety garments should be worn by people who require visibility at a distance, against complex backgrounds and around conditions that obstruct vision.
The AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 standard acknowledges the harsh conditions workwear must protect against and directs how a high-visibility garment is constructed. Construction refers to the garments overall design. For workwear, this specifically means the configuration and amount of two safety materials; fluorescent and retroreflective.
This standard accompanies AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 Retroreflective materials and devices for road traffic control purposes - Part 4: High-visibility materials for safety garments. The materials in AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 provide differing levels of visibility depending on the time of the day, amount of light available and what type of light it is - natural or artificial. AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 has outlined what garment construction is safest for day, night and day/night use. Depending on the sites working requirements, personnel need to assess which of the following classifications will provide the best visibility. Below are a few examples of products that would not comply with AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 performance requirements.
Incorrect Fluoro Area
Fluoro area should be no less than 0.2m²
Dyed fabrics must meet chromaticity levels to comply with standards
Reflective tape must not be broken or have gaps
The Recommended Tape Pattern
Biomotion is defined by two hoops around the arms and legs. This tape configuration, although not mandatory, is highly recommended in the AS/NZS standard. There must be a hoop above and below the joint, a knee or elbow joint. A biomotion tape configuration ensures the limb is visible when bent and will increase visibility at a long distance.
Class D - Day Use
The garment requires a minimum of 0.2m2 of unbroken high-visibility fabric, covering the front and back of the wearer's torso. This section of fabric should not be broken or covered by features such as ID cardholders. Logos, words and pockets can be included but must not infringe on the 0.2m2 of unbroken high-visibility. Likewise, underarm vents that don't meet the colour specification of AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 are not included.
Garment material must comply with AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 Class F and NF material by meeting the necessary fluorescence levels.
Class D garments are not advised to be worn for night-time applications. Fluorescent materials are generally not reflective when exposed to artificial light. Therefore, the garment would pose a risk to the wearer, as stated on the labelling.
Class N - Night Use
Class N garments are designed only for night-time, where natural light is replaced by artificial light sources such as the fluorescent lights of a warehouse or the headlights of a car.
For this reason, unlike Class D garments, Class N garments do not have a specified high-visibility material requirement and can be constructed from white, pink and sky blue fabrics. Night garments instead rely on retroreflective material, reflective tape, which creates enhanced visibility by reflecting artificial light back to its source.
It is essential for night worn garments to have an adequate amount of reflective tape placed on the most visible positions of the body - the standard outlines five exact tape configurations to the millimetre, which will ensure maximum visibility. These configurations are commonly referred to as ‘biomotion’, ‘double hoop’, ‘H-pattern’ (back and front) and ‘X-back’ patterns.
Due to lack of Class F or Class NF fluorescent material, these garments are not suitable to be used during the day.
Class D/N - Day / Night Use
Class D/N garments are designed to provide wearer visibility in both day and night-time conditions.
These garments combine the requirements of Class D high-visibility fabric with Class N requirements of reflective tape configurations.
Like Class D, Class D/N garments must have the same 0.2m2 high-visibility fabric on the front and back torso, compliant to AS/NZS 1904.4:2010 Class F material standards. Class NF fabric can be used instead, with the caveat of reduced high-visibility properties and differing care instructions. High-visibility fabric must also be accompanied by Class R or Class RF reflective tape.